dotsESSENCE® Presents Keynotes, Conversations and Celebrations on Festival’s Daytime Empowerment Experience Stage

Published on April 3, 2017 by Sonya's Spotlight

IMG_6424Featuring Iyanla Vanzant, Ava DuVernay, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Cissy Houston & More

  Time Inc.’s (NYSE:TIME) ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola® announces its star-studded daytime lineup of speakers and panelists for the event’s signature ESSENCE® Empowerment Experience Stage, taking place June 30–July 2, 2017, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.

Free and open to the public, the ESSENCE® Empowerment Experience Stage will serve as the intersection of passion and purpose, bridging the gap between this generation’s most prominent voices in leadership–from social media activists to community organizers–and those who have laid the groundwork for them. Conversations and keynote addresses will put the invaluable, intersectional voices of Black women at the forefront and will feature influencers such as Iyanla Vanzant, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ava DuVernay, Rev. Al Sharpton, Phaedra Parks, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Luvvie Ajayi, activist April Reign, National Women’s March Co-Founder Tamika D. Mallory and Bishop Lester Love, with music provided by DJ Charles “Bam Bam” Belonge and house band Church Friends.

Empowerment Experience newcomers Mary Pat Hector and poet Cleo Wade will shed light on a new wave of social and artistic activism anchored by next generation’s leaders. Plus, Cheryl Wills will host an all-star gospel tribute to Grammy-award winning, soul and gospel music icon Dr. Cissy Houston sponsored by Wal-Mart. Additional speakers and talent to be announced soon.

“This year’s ESSENCE Festival® will be the largest gathering of African Americans following the presidential election, as activists and policymakers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our communities across America,” said ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “Intergenerational programming spanning love, health, money, politics and religion will provide the tools to facilitate healing and growth through the sharing of expertise and experiences.”

The ESSENCE® Empowerment Experience Stage offers curated content from ESSENCE’s editorial team, extending conversations that have moved from the page to the screen to the stage. For a full lineup of this year’s daytime speakers and artists, visit

Join the festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of Festival on Facebook.

The 2017 ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola® is sponsored by Ford, McDonald’s State Farm and Wal-Mart, and the ESSENCE® Empowerment Experience is executive produced by GeChar.


Time Inc. (NYSE:TIME) is a leading content company that engages over 150 million consumers every month through our portfolio of premium brands across platforms. By combining our distinctive content with our proprietary data and people-based targeting, we offer highly differentiated end-to-end solutions to marketers across the multimedia landscape. Our influential brands include People, Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple and Southern Living, as well as more than 50 diverse titles in the United Kingdom. Time Inc. has been extending the power of our brands through various acquisitions and investments, including Viant, an advertising technology firm with a specialized people-based marketing platform; The Foundry, Time Inc.’s creative lab and content studio; and the People Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). The company is also home to celebrated events, such as the Time 100, Fortune Most Powerful Women, People’s Sexiest Man Alive, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, the Essence Festival and the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.


ESSENCE® Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events and online. The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE® magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women, generating brand extensions such as the ESSENCE Festival®, ESSENCE® Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 46 years, ESSENCE®, which has a brand reach of 14.2 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE® is available at

Photos – Courtesy of Essence Publicity.

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